Parting is such sweet sorrow
When I was only but a wee boy, Lexus was all the rage in beige. A “luxury” division of the equally droll Toyota Motor Company. But since then, both companies have grown up, for the most part. While Lexus has solidified it’s “luxury” claims both at home and abroad, it still lacked that dirty, malicious feeling of something powerful, something dangerous, something… performance-minded with a V8. It wasn’t until 2006 that initial testing of just such a vehicle was underway.
The Lexus IS F; developed in part with a “skunk works” team, lead by chief of design Yukihiki Yaguchi- the same man who helped develop the cult classic Supra. It was the answer to all things boring, all things beige and it was developed on a race track(s).
So was it any good? Well, after seven-plus years of careful development and a few minor tweaks and turns here and there, the Japanese German-killer was/is ready to show the world a fresh new face. Unfortunately, it’s going to be dead by 2014. But it doesn’t always have to be a sad goodbye, does it? You bet you sweet ass it doesn’t.
It’s a 5.0L V8, in a Lexus IS- do I need to continue? Well, for the purpose of professionalism, I suppose I must. At 416 horsepower, it’s a beast, but not an unmanageable beast. Think a large dog who has indeed mauled someone in the past, but has been taken to behavioral classes and put most of its aggression behind him. But still, don’t fuck with it.
Under 3,600 rpm (I’m about to get real good and detailed here) the dual air intake system manages power through a primary intake passage keeping it manageable at low/medium speeds. It’s not until you get over the 3,500 hump does the secondary passage open, boosting rpm and increasing engine noise. The faster you go, the more ferocious it sounds.
Thankfully it’s rear-drive. The traction control is pretty tight, but extremely easy to deactivate. Then- and only then- is this a fear-mongering piece of Japanese machinery.
Performance-wise, my only gripe was the lack of a six-speed manual gearbox, rather, replaced by an eight-speed Sport Direct Shift Transmission. But you could argue, with an 0.1 second shift time, a lackadaisical manual transmission feels like an industrial revolution-era antique.
On the outside, the new Lexus looks mostly like a Lexus. The average buyer would have to do a double take in order to realize that it even carries any sort of physical abnormality from the standard IS. Some handsome new wheels and tires, a few nifty F badges about and a differentiating side wind skirt thing which seems a bit out of place and overplayed.
In general though, a very handsome saloon that isn’t too overbearing in public.
Inside the Lexus is a very nice place to be. It’s luxurious, it smells nice and mine even came with a nice ivory leather and seat warmers, which made me feel like a Middle-Eastern prince. And according to some unwritten rule of cars with a V8, the seats were required to be tighter and less forgiving, I assume for drifting and turning and such.
Steering wheel controls, navigation, satellite radio- all awesome. Not even hard to use really (unlike the Veloster/Focus). There was also a sunroof, which I like, memory adjustable seats, an electronically motivated steering column, and a few other amenities which made it a very nice place to be.
In terms of practicality regarding space, yeah sure, it was spacious enough. About as spacious as any luxury sedan. The rear was roomy, the trunk was deep and the front was open and easy to move about even with tacos and puppies in hand.
But in terms of gas mileage, well, expect to dish out some serious cash money if you plan on driving this baby everyday. Combined mpg is officially rated at 18 (16 city/23 highway), which in itself is nothing to brag about. I kept it at about 19 the first day, and then when I really started hooning it like a bitch, it crapped out to just under 15 mpg, and mostly stayed there.
I had to fill it up once, and then again halfway near the end of the week. With premium, of course. Not because I’m a good owner, oh no, that’s what’s required of any Lexus IS F owner as long as they wish to keep their car alive for more than a year. It’s a pain, yeah, but then again, if you’re dishing out the $59-$62K for the ride, you should have some cash left over for the expensive luxury gas. I mean, children don’t need to eat every day do they?
I like fun cars. Who doesn’t? This is a fun car, a very fun car. I didn’t know where to rank it compared to the Mustang 5.0 (as that was a scarier fun), but this refined sort of power and handling in a four-door made it a really great thing to toss around and burn some rubber in.
In the end, the IS F was a great car; it looked handsome, it handled decent- and while mpg sort of sucked- I really didn’t give a single damn, it was a hoot. It’s not as precise as the BMW M3, nor is it as intimating as the C63 AMG, it’s somewhere in between. But a good in-between. Refined and developed, yet visceral and offensive when need be.
It’s a great car, and this little heart is going to be sad when it goes. But we will see it again, or at least, we hope so.
Model: IS F
Engine: 5.0L V8
0-60: Approx. 4.7 Seconds
MPG: 16 / 23
Photo Credit: Copyright 2013 BoldRide